Friday, July 26, 2013

Pruning Mid-Summer

Judging from the calls on the radio (“The Garden Clinic”, Saturdays from noon to 1:00 on WTMA) many people are thinking about doing some pruning.

Pruning in August gets a little tricky, if you are pruning plants that you grow to enjoy their flowers. If a podocarpus, ligustrum, pittosporum or a plant that is grown for foliage not flowers is blocking your walk or driveway, go ahead and prune. The tricky part is camellias and azaleas. Do I prune them?

For the most part camellias have set their flower buds for the fall and azaleas have set their buds for the spring, so you would not want to prune them. However, if you have to do some light pruning for safety or a limb is being a nuisance, go ahead and prune realizing that you might be removing some of your flowers.

A general rule of thumb that has served me well throughout the years is to prune a plant or a fruit bearing tree or shrub right after it flowers or fruits. Of course, there are a few exceptions. Say your camellias and azaleas finish blooming in May, prune heavy enough that they will not need pruning again until next year. If these plants need constant pruning, you may consider transplanting them to another area of the yard that has more room. A general date that would vary with variety is to have all your azaleas pruned by the Fourth of July.

The tricky ones are the plants that bloom on 2 year old wood. Hydrangeas and bananas are the most common plants around here that bloom on 2 year old wood, so you can not remove all the wood to the ground every year or you will not have flowers. In the case of bananas, you have to protect that wood from freezing so they will flower and produce bananas. There is a new variety of hydrangea that blooms on new wood.

When pruning, try to reach into the middle of the plant and open it up.  Take some of the oldest canes down to the base of the plant so it can send out young new shoots from the bottom.  Remove any wood that looks old and unproductive.  Remove any rubbing, sick or diseased looking limbs. Encouraging growth from the middle will also reduce lichen growth. If you have a lot of diseased limbs, consider sterilizing your pruners with a 1% mix of bleach. 

Try not to remove more than 25% of the total plant at one time.  If it is an eight foot plant, don’t hedge it off down to six feet and figure you have removed 25% of the plant.  It is best to use hand pruners and make your pruning cuts where another branch is coming off the limb that you are cutting.   Don’t make cuts along the stem where there is not a branch coming out or you will get two limbs coming out at this point and will create the “shell effect” if done repeatedly. 

The “shell effect” is when you have a veneer of green foliage on the outside of the plant and the middle of the plant has no foliage at all.  This “shell effect” does not allow light and air movement inside the plant making it a haven for disease and insects.  A plant should have layers of green foliage from the top to the bottom, inside the plant and out. 

When you are pruning your azaleas or any other plant at this time of year, make sure you have plenty of mulch and maintain adequate moisture by a good watering schedule.  When you prune the plant, you will be removing leaves that were shading the ground and the root system of the plant will be much hotter, causing it to dry out faster. 

Fleas? Yellowing grass? Sick plants? Keep reading the “Horticulture Hotline”!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Prevention And Protection Part 7 Fleas, Roaches, Drain Flies, Flies

Preventing pest in and around your house is always best. You do not want roaches all over your kitchen before you decide to do anything about them.  Before your dog or cat is totally infested you can apply products that prevent fleas and ticks. Flies are out this time of year, so it is a good time to get them under control.

The time is right for killing roaches, spiders, and other nuisance invaders with a perimeter spray of insecticides around your house. I really do not like killing spiders because like snakes most of the spiders are considered beneficial. Unfortunately, spider and snakes get classified as “the only good one is a dead one” around here.

Establishing a barrier will keep unwanted guest out of your house. There are several products on the market that will nail these roaches (along with many other pests). Bifen, Viper, Cyonara Lawn and Garden, Bifen granular, Cyonara granular, FenvaStar EcoCap, LambdaStar 9.7% CS, Intice (“green”) and IC3 (“green”) are a small sample of many products that are available.

Generally, treating the perimeter involves spraying 3 to 10 feet out from your house in the mulched areas. Apply plenty of water with the product to carry it down into the mulch where the pests are hiding. You could also use a granular product in these areas.

Also spray about 3 feet up the side of your house, around windows, porches, lights, garages, eaves, garbage areas and other areas where pests may be found. Read and follow label directions for the specifics of doing a perimeter treatment for the product you choose to use as some of the laws have changed.

With all the fresh vegetables and fruit being consumed in the Lowcountry, drain flies can become an issue. Regular applications of InVade BioDrain (green product) should prevent the scum on the sides of the drain pipes from forming or eat the scum away if it has already started. InVade BioDrain is a specialized drain cleaner which uses premium natural microbes and citrus oil.

For fleas, consider Prefurred Plus, Prefurred One, Petcor, or Bio Spot for the animal, an adulticide and growth regulator spray for inside the house, a vacuum, an adulticide and growth regulator shampoo and a granular or liquid spray for outside in the beds and turf.

Prefurred Plus and Prefurred One are similar to Frontline. Check the prices out and the active ingredients and I think you will like the Prefurred Plus and the Prefurred One.

With grilling season and all the fruits and vegetable scraps, flies are becoming uninvited guest. IC3 (NOP compliant), Cyonara, Bifen, LambdaStar 9.7% CS are just a few of the many spray products. MaxForce Fly Spot Bait or Bonanza are  great fly bait products.

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Prevention and Protection Part 6 Mosquitoes

Prevention with mosquitoes is always a good idea. With the rainfall we have had, there is a lot of breeding sites for the mosquitoes. Try to do your part in your yard to eliminate breeding areas, unfortunately, one used tire in a vacant lot or a ditch that holds water can produce a whole lot of mosquitoes.

First, I’m going to give you a shopping list. Pick up these items then wage war on the mosquitoes and their breeding places in your yard. Liquid Net (the Ultimate Insect Repellent by The Liquid Fence Company), Cyonara Lawn and Garden, Mosquito Repelling Granules or IC3, Mosquito Dunks, and Altosid Pro G are some of the basic weapons that you will need to wage war against these blood suckers.

Apply the Liquid Net to yourself. This product is organic and does an unbelievable job against mosquitoes, gnats, no-see-ums, ticks and other biting insects. Liquid Net is non-greasy, DEET-free, and safe for the whole family. It also has a 100% guarantee from the manufacturer. Last year, I had one of my customers from Possum’s wanting to travel around to the various ball field complexes and sell this stuff because it worked so good, was organic and would not harm her small children. Now you are ready for the yard.

Scout around the yard for anything that holds water. Old tires, saucers under potted plants, bird baths, old flower containers or pots stacked in a corner, dog toys, kids toys, a container by the grill you use to soak wood chips in, a cooler, an old fountain, a hole in a tree and a dogs water bowl all make great places for mosquitoes to breed. Empty the water out these areas (refill the dog bowl and the bird bath daily). Many mosquitoes can breed in just an ounce of water.

If you have bigger areas of water like a ditch or a low area of the yard that holds water, apply the Mosquito Dunks or the Altosid Pro G. The Mosquito Dunks are an organic Bt product that kill larvae and the Altosid Pro G is a growth regulator product that contains the same active ingredient that is used in the Precor products for controlling fleas. Although Altosid is not organic, it is considered to be very safe and labeled to be used in very sensitive areas like marshes. Turn off your irrigation when you can and correct any drainage problems.

Any pruning you can do to increase air movement and sunlight penetration will also help. Mosquitoes like moist stagnant areas. Overgrown shrubs and trees will favor fungus, certain plant insects as well as mosquitoes. Regular mowing will help the lawn dry.

Mosquitoes are a public health issue, so if neighborhood is not being maintained, you might be able to get some help from a government agency.

Next, you want to mow your lawn then spray the lawn, shrubs, trees, and mulched areas with Cyonara Lawn and Garden. This product not only kills mosquitoes but also kills chiggers, fleas, ants, ticks, spittlebugs and roaches just to name a few other problem insects out right now.

If you would like a more organic approach, apply Mosquito Repelling Granules. Check the weather (I know it is hard to do around here) because this product likes to be dry for 48 hours after application. This organic product really does a great job. It is university tested and has also proven itself in the Lowcountry. Many of our customers at Possum’s have reported control for over three weeks! We sell it to people putting on large fundraisers, other outdoor festivals, weddings, sporting events, and individuals and we always get positive feedback.

IC3 is another organic option. It is a spray that also gets a lot of other yard pest.

If this sounds like too much work, hire a professional. Always read and follow product label.

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Prevention and Protection Part 5

The Magnolia trees seem to be extra fragrant this year. I do not know if it because the thick humid air or what, but while walking around, you can tell when you are down wind.  I do not know the last time I was in the perfume aisle of a department store (or for that matter in a department store in general), but someone should come up with a Scents of the South perfume line. Magnolia, Gardenia, and Tea Olive would be the opening line up with Banana Shrub for the teens. These perfumes might already exist, I would not know.
You could also have the Scents of Charleston for the Redneck – 2 day old shrimp bait balls, low tide, crabs in trash Sunday and trash pick-up on Friday plus 95 degrees, deer guts and well, I’ll let you fill in the rest.

Japanese Beetles are munching on the roses and crepe myrtles with a vengeance. The beetle usually eats between the veins leaving this nice lacey leaf behind. Treating them while they are grubs in the soil (prevention), will lower the population and help your grass and plants. The grubs are root feeders of the grass and other plants. Dominion does a great job of controlling the grubs when used in August, April, May, or June. In August and April they are smaller and easier to control. Sevin and Dylox are also good choices. Milky Spore is an organic solution.

When they are adult beetles, Cyonara and Bifen work really well. IC3 is a National Organic Program (NOP) approved product that will also provide good control. When treating adults with the amount of rain we are having, plan on several applications.

The pheromone traps for Japanese beetles also have their place – far away from the plants that you are trying to protect!

Crabgrass is another pest in the yard that we are getting a lot of calls about. Prevention with preemergent products in February and again in April are the best control; however, Image should give you some control now with multiple applications. Read and follow product label as always.

Prevent Chinch Bugs the easy way this year with Aloft. One application now should prevent them for the rest of the season. IC3 will also manage “The Nasty Rascal, The Chinch Bug”. Bifen and Cyonara will not last as long as Aloft; however, they control many other pests in the yard as a bonus.

Mosquitoes, rats, fleas, and roaches – prevention!!

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.